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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  July 27, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT

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online at our blog, you can follow my tweets @thelastword. rachel maddow show is up next with guest host, melissa harris-perry. good evening. >> hi, lawrence. good to see you tonight. >> thanks, lawrence, and thanks to you for staying with us. six days to go and no deal. tonight, the federal government now sits less than one week away from officially defaulting on its debt for the first time in our history, and after weeks of relative calm and cautious optimism that some sort of deal will eventually be reached, today we begin to see ç some real, concrete signs of nervousness. this right here is the dow jones industrial average, commonly referred to as the stock market. here's where the dow started the day, it was up around 12,500. around here is where the dow finished the day, down around 200 points. it's the first day the dow
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headed into that unhappy direction and now is on pace to have its worst week in nearly a year. one reason is wall street's uncertainty about washington. their uncertainty our political leaders will save the country from economic calamity. as one wall street executive put it today, quite obviously, confidence in our political system is beginning to fade. now, our goal here is not to make you or the markets any more afraid than you need to be. in fact, if you are the free hand of the market, go now to your happy place for just a minute while we get through the day's news, because the truth is, the stock market has good reason to be worried today. at this hour, there is still no deal in washington to raise the debt ceiling, and thereby calm the markets, soothe and pet them, the markets and investors around the world. in fact, today's developments
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were less calming and more chaotic. today, the top republican in the house, speaker john boehner, engaged in a pitch battle with his own caucus to get them on board with his debt ceiling plan. mr. boehner was forced to delay eld today, not forced to delay only so he could rework it, also it was not clear he had enough votes on his own side to pass it. the speaker reportedly told members of the caucus today -- get your blank in line. i can't do this job unless you're behind me. at this stage in the game, that's the plan the republicans are going with? fall in line behind john boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling for all of six months and then we can all have this fight all over again? now, the house is planning to vote on that bill tomorrow, but even if they pass it, it's not
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really expected to go anywhere. the white house has already warned president obama would veto it if it reaches his desk, and yesterday, four republicans in the senate announced they are not for the boehner plan either. again, i want to repeat, if you happen to actually be the free hand of the market and you're tuning in tonight to find out whether a deal's about to happen in washington, please, turn away and think about babbling brooks and warm puppies for a minute. because with the chances of 5 grand compromise appearing as unlikely as ever, today a group of democratic leaders in the house officially urged president obama to go to plan z, to deploy the constitutional option. this would involve the president raising the debt ceiling on his own, without congressional authorization, by invoking his powers under the 14th amendment of the u.s. constitution. >> if a small group really is that intent on destroying government and is intent on saying they don't believe that there's any ramifications for
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have to have a fail-safe mechanism. we believe that fail-safe mechanism is the 14th amendment and the president of the united states. >> mr. speaker, house republicans have failed to govern. failure is not an option for our country. and therefore, you leave it to the president to take whatever action is within his power by his right under the constitution to move this country forward and make sure americans do not suffer the consequences of your failure. >> despite these pleas from house democrats, the white house reiterated again today they have absolutely no plans to use the 14th amendment as a fall-back plan, so we wait for a deal. and as we do, the consequences of default or even near default are becoming clearer. today the head of one of the nation's largest credit agencies testified before the house and
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warned again of a possibility of a credit downgrade for the u.s. government. the president of s&p told members of congress that there are credible proposals out there that could prevent a downgrade but "we're waiting for what the final proposal is." yeah, just like us. so here's the question tonight. with just six days to go know, is anybody in washington thinking about how this could affect the average american while the rest of us are left to just sit back here and watch what happens? are any of these folks thinking about what their choices are going to mean for kitchen tables across the country? if they are not thinking about that, here's what they should be thinking about. let's just take congressman michele bachmann's district in minnesota as an example. michele bachmann has said unequivocally she will not vote to raise the debt ceiling. michele bachmann has a wealthy district in minnesota, median income there is about $70,000, and the median home value is
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about $240,000. republicans say they don't like president obama's debt ceiling because it raises taxes, right? well, guess what. if you're this average american living in michele bachmann's district making $70,000 a year, the president's plan won't actually raise your taxes at all. that's only for folks making a quarter of a million dollars or more. but here's what a default could do. that $200,000 mortgage of yours will suddenly see an increase of loan payments after the u.s. credit rating gets downgraded and interest rates skyrocket. that's $400 more in house payments you'll have to pay if the u.s. credit rating goes down a notch. in total, that adds up to $20,000 extra dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage. thank you, default. if you're new to congressman bachmann's district and you want
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to secure a new loan for a $220,000 house, let's say, you're looking at paying an extra $24,000 over the lifetime of your loan if the government defaults. let's say you're one of michele bachmann's constituents who has a healthy retirement plan tucked away, something in the neighborhood of $140,000. what will the default mean to your 401(k)? say good-bye to more than $8,000 of your portfolio as the stock market loses hundreds of billions of dollars in value. according to some estimates, the spike in interest rates and the damage to the u.s. dollar alone could cost the average american family more than $1,500. that means default is a job killing burden on the american people. remember how they've been saying that's what's going on with taxes, but that's actually what the downgrading of the u.s. credit rating means. as politicians in washington position themselves politically on this debt ceiling fight, have they thought at all about what
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this default is going to do to (!uj$juáñ joining us now is ezra klein, columnist for "the washington post" and bloomberg and also an msnbc policy analyst. hi, ezra, it's nice to see you. >> good evening, good to be here. >> thanks, listen, so i've been watching you, you know, writing recently about boehner one, boehner two, we could talk about, you know, obama circa june, obama circa july. it's really a three-ring circus in washington that we're all looking at, but tell me, is there something that we should be focusing on about the effect of this default on the average american? has that been overlooked? >> it has been, look, if only this were merely a three-ring circus. turns out to have many more rings than that. the problem with the default argument, what you hear from the republicans, this is the central factor driving the debate, there are a lot of republicans in the house of representatives okay going past august 2, 8, 10, or
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wherever they need to go to get the type of leverage they think they need to get a balanced budget amendment. if you go there, though, we don't just get a downgrade, downgrade would be bad enough, we'd get one if we passed the boehner plan. if we went into prioritization, we're going to suck $134 billion out of the economy in august. that's 10% of that one month's gdp. you don't get to do that without going into, essentially, an immediate recession. >> the numbers, when i hear you talk, stress me out. i can't quite conceptualize what a billion looks like, if i'm sitting at my kitchen table and i'm trying to figure out how i should feel about this, seriously, what is worse for us?
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. credit rating being downgraded the worst out come or is it worse for us to sign on to a debt ceiling plan being floated in congress right now? >> no, getting our credit downgraded, and i should say, according to s&p, we might still get a downgrade, just might not get a default. but to not have a deal is catastrophic. to have a deal will be bad, too. to put this into some perspective, if we do get a deal, both the reid and boehner plan cut $20-some billion next year. $120 billion in tax relief from working people. unemployment insurance is another $60 billion out from the most jobless americans, so you're dealing with about $200, $250 billion comes out of the economy in 2012 out of the u.s. alone. a lot of that is the people that need it the most. those aren't good plans, so it shows something about how bad an actual default or prioritization would be.
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>> so look, particularly if the boehner plan and the reid plan are that close together in terms of how they might really hit working families, how are we going to bring this thing to an end, when you're looking at it, are we going to get one of these plans adopted, or is this the president invoking this plan z, this constitutional 14th amendment right to do it. is that the only way we're going to avoid the catastrophic case you suggested? >> i don't think the 14th amendment will work. i think the administration's lawyers, the law professors have been skeptical enough and when you're dealing with a conservative supreme court and the uncertainly of a constitutional crisis on top of a debt crisis, that's too hard a road to hoe, but i think we're going to see something between the reid and boehner plans, the big difference is the boehner plan forces us to raise the debç ceiling again and forces us to accept a $1.8 trillion or more in cuts from the so-called super commission, and if we don't do it, we go through another crises.
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he also demands a vote on the budget amendment. i think you could get something more rational to incentivize another plan down the road and have something with enough pressure coming from the markets, both parties could vote for. >> you make it sound like if reasonable people had a conversation about this there might actually be a solution, so thanks for being on and talking with us today. >> glad to be here. >> that was ezra klein, columnist for "the washington post" and bloomberg and also an msnbc policy analyst. thanks so much. >> thank you. >> now, ask yourself, would you -- no, not you, nancy. would you want john boehner's job right now, trying to placate a gaggle of angry tea partiers and stave off an economic calamity at the same time? i suspect there are moments even he doesn't want this job, but he's got it, and we need john boehner to get better at doing it. [ male announcer ] the network --
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one woman stands between extreme conservatism and women's reproductive health rights in north carolina. she happens to be the governor, and she is in the middle of a political fight of her life, as we speak. it's a story to be heard, and it's coming up. introducing the schwab mobile app. it's schwab at your fingertips wherever, whenever you want. one log in lets you monitor all of your balances and transfer between accounts, so your money can move as fast as you do. check out your portfolio, track the market with live updates. and execute trades anywhere and anytime the inspiration hits you. even deposit checks right from your phone. just take a picture, hit deposit and you're done. open an account today and put schwab mobile to work for you.
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♪ i like your messy hair ♪ i like the clothes you wear ♪ i like the way you sing ♪ and when you dance with me ♪ you always make me smile [ male announcer ] we believe you're at your best when you can relax and be yourself. and at thousands of newly refreshed holiday inn hotels, you always can. holiday inn. stay you. and now stay rewarded with vacation pay. stay two weekend nights and get a $75 prepaid card. in some ways, we are all essentially toddlers. no matter how old we get, we like doing things we are good at, and we like figuring out if others are good at things too. short answer is pretty easy to determine. the summer olympics in london
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begin one year from today, and if you are great, not just good, but great at your sport, you get a medal. gold, silver, bronze, simple. but in politics, that can be a more difficult question to answer. how do you define success, how do you know, for example, if a speaker of the house has been successful? one measure of it would be personal ambition, promotion to the next level, but history hasç not been kind to the ambitions of speakers of the house. few have managed to ascend from this job. for as long as there's been a united states congress, there has been a speaker of the house, and in all that time, all 220 years, only one speaker of the house has ever been elected president. that would be president james k. polk, whose successes or lack thereof warrant their own analysis. another way to think about a speaker's success is the sheer amount of work that gets done and how difficult that work is. let's go back to the olympics
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comparison for a moment. sports like diving and gymnastic are great to the degree of difficulty and quality of execution. speaker nancy pelosi ruled the roost for two congressional terms. in her first term as speaker, in her very first term, over 300 laws originated in the house of representatives and went on to become law. in her second term about 250 laws originated in the house and went on to become law. that's 550 laws, some of which were the political equivalent of a gymnast double back with a double twist, and if you don't know what that is, google it. we're talking about the stimulus, ethics reform, financial reform, minimum wage increase, repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," the lilly ledbetter fair pay act, and, of course, health reform. now, under speaker john boehner's leadership, however, just 12 bills have originated in the house have become law. i know i'm new, but that was not a typo, i did not misspeak.
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you heard me, 12. the boehnor speakership is on track for 48 bills. a third measure is not whether or not you get promoted or how much you get done or against what odds, but whether or not everybody on your team stays on your team, the cohesiveness of your party.ç now, using this measure, speaker john boehner's actually been quite successful. others managed to make sure his republican caucus stayed in line. they voted unanimously on some legislation, and he's kept internal dissent to a whisper, until now. the number of republicans in the house are publicly defying speaker boehner and his proposal for raising the debt ceiling, including the congressman who heads up a group of conservatives in the house who doesn't think speaker boehner's plans has the votes. >> i am confident, as of this morning, that there were not 218 republicans in support of the plan. >> that was republican
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congressman jim jordan yesterday, but today, late in the day, starting to seem like speaker boehner's fortunes were changing. his debt ceiling proposal was reevaluated by the congressional budget office and he pitched that plan to republicans in the house with some very persuasive language, as he explained on right wing radio this morning. >> is it true that you told some of the republican members this morning that you need to get your a-word in line behind this debt ceiling bill? >> i sure did. listen, this is time to do what is doable. >> joining us now from washington, for the very latest is john stanton, reporter for "roll call" newspaper, nice to have you, john. >> good to be here. >> so, i find myself in the strange position of actually sort of rooting for john boehner here, for him to do well, for him to have a better day today than he had yesterday. do you think it's fair to say that he, in fact, did have a better day today?
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>> compared to yesterday, certainly. i think today it would have been hard for him to have a worse day, frankly, than he did yesterday. he had jim jordan comes out saying he didn't have votes, a lot of his members were very, very skeptical. cbo came out and said his bill ç didn't have enough savings as he thought it had. he had to pull back from that. yesterday certainly was pretty rough. today has been much, much better. he's had, you know, a number of members who were on the fence, come out now and said they will vote for the bill. cbo gave him a better score on his rewrite. he seems to have momentum going, so on those metrics, seems to be a better day, yes. >> i wouldn't find myself rooting for republican ideological coherence and cohesiveness, but it does seem like if anything is going to happen to move this debt ceiling forward or up, as the case may be, that we're going to need
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republicans to have confidence that boehner is their leader. right now, how would you judge whether or not he has that confidence in support of his caucus? >> i think it's -- he has the confidence of his conference for now. there is a much larger question about whether or not he can maintain that after maybe monday or tuesday of next week, depending on what happens with this debt limit vote. if jim jordan and conservatives are successful in beating back his bill tomorrow and it falls on the house floor, i think you're going to see a lot more willingness amongst republicans to stand up to him and say no, he's going to have a lot more difficult time corralling them for the looming fight where we'll have a shutdown in september. and, you know, this is really the moment that is going to define the rest of his speakership, and, you know, right now most rank and file republicans are not willing to question him and his leadership ability, but i think a lot of
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them are keeping a close eye with his relationship with conservatives. >> so if he loses this vote, does he lose his job? >> no, i don't think so. i think he keeps his job, certainly, through the end of this session of congress. what happens then could be an open question frankly. eric cantor is a very ambitious person, he's a majority leader and in theory would be next in line. if they don't do well in the election and they lose some seats, you could see an effort to try to replace him. if a lot of his moderate members and old school members are lost to younger tea party types and other hard lined conservatives, he could see a challenge then regardless of how the rest of the next 18 months go, so yes, it depends on sort of what's going so happen for him. >> let's say it goes the other way. say he wins the vote, they manage to get this thing out of the house, is it dead on arrival in the senate? for all the work he may do to herd these cats around him, will
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it all be for naught? >> i don't think it's going to have any traction in the senate, you know, the senate democrats today came out and said they were all going to vote against it, that's 53 votes against it right there, which means it's dead in the senate, but i wouldn't necessarily say it's all for not. he's trying to position his conference for the final deal that's going to come out towards the end of the week or the weekend on the debt limit increase. increase. he's convincing his conference they need to compromise with democrats and give in on pretty big issues, and the biggest problem for him, frankly, is most of his members, or a large portion of his members don't believe they need to. they don't see the necessity, so that's what he's struggling with. >> thanks for your clarity on that, john stanton, reporter foç "roll call" newspaper. thanks so much for your reporting. have a great evening. >> thank you. >> the house republican caucus has decided to battle it out.
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they are dug in. so you can understand why they need a little inspiration for the big fight, but their inspiration says way more about them than, i think, anyone ever wanted to know. i want to suggest an alternative for motivation coming up next. i! yup, america's favorite. so we're celebrating the honey sweetness, crunchy oats and... hey! don't forget me!! honey nut cheerios. make it your favorite too! honey nut cheerios. somewhere in america, a city comes to life. it moves effortlessly, breathes easily. it flows with clean water. it makes its skyline greener and its population healthier. all to become the kind of city people want to live and work in. somewhere in america, we've already answered some of the nation's toughest questions. and the over sixty thousand people of siemens are ready to do it again.
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>> that was not only ben affleck in the movie "the town" rallying his gang of thugs for a criminal adventure, it was also the inspirational movie of choice for the house republican caucus. yes, the fine folks steering the ship of the state into the iceberg known as default gathered around to hear hardened gangsters give them inspiration, and we know this because they leaked that fact to the press. perhaps they didn't vet the movie. anyway, around here we were thinking about our favorite pep talks, best on film or on tape. and here is a mother of 9-year-old approved rendition of miracle on ice, something that might be a better choice. >> great moments are born from great opportunities. that's what you have here
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tonight, boys. that's what you earned here tonight. screw 'em! this is your time. now go out there and take it. >> on the one hand, i'm now, officially, hyped. on the other, great moments are born from great opportunities. that is probably just too much of a stretch for the house republicans right now. maybe the accidental moment of transparency they chose was, in fact, perfect. desperate folks bent on destruction for their own benefit and their own benefit alone. go get 'em, fellas.
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there's a new sheriff in town. [ cheers and applause ] and she knows how to do business. >> that was bev perdue in 2008 on the night north carolina voters decided she would be their first woman governor. that same night, north carolina voters chose barack obama for president and elizabeth dole's
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democratic challenger for senate. then 2010 happened. republicans want a bigger majority in state legislators than they had -- excuse me, since 1928, and north carolina was part of that historic ç conservative sweep. republicans took control of the north carolina assembly for the first time in more than a century. that's when north carolina's self-styled new sheriff and giant veto stamp became north carolina's thin blue line. with a driving policy in the state assembly, governor perdue has become all that's standing in the way of the majority's uber-conservative vision of north carolina's future in terms of voting rights, access to the polls, and in terms of education and the economy. when the republican-led assembly passed a bill full of new abortion restrictions, a bill that included a 24-hour waiting
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period for women seeking the procedure, a script that has to be read to her an a sonogram required only so it can be shown to the woman seeking an abortion. when the legislators sent that bill to governor perdue, governor perdue got out her veto stamp. she explained the veto like this. "this bill is a dangerous intrusion in the confidential relationship between women and their doctors. physicians must be free to advice and treat their patients and not have their advice overridden by elected officials seeking to impose their own ideological agenda on others." catch this -- "therefore, i veto this bill." now, when the assembly required photo i.d. to vote in north carolina, governor perdue got out her veto stamp and explained that veto like this. "this bill has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything
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to do with voter's suppression. over the last 50 years, many brave men and women fought to eliminate barriers to voting.ç therefore, i veto this bill." and when the republican-led assembly passed a budget that she believed was so underfunded in terms of education that it didn't meet the state's constitutional obligations, governor perdue got out her veto stamp and became the first north carolina governor to veto an entire budget. she explained the veto in part by saying "as i reviewed the general assembly's plan for how north carolina should run the next two years i found a budget that rips at our classrooms and campuses, our quality of life and the safety of our communities, i cannot support a
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budget that sends the message that north carolina is moving backwards when we have always been a state that led the nation. the general assembly may have been satisfied with a state in reverse, but i am not. therefore" -- say it with me at home -- "i veto this bill." nice change of pace from the faux conciliatory do nothingness of washington, isn't it? and that's not to say it always works out for bev perdue, not like her veto stamp is magic or something. republicans have promised to her vetoes, and so far, they are making pretty good progress. this week, the north carolina house overrode her veto of the package of new abortion restrictions, both the house and senate voted to override her veto of the budget, and the house failed this week to get enough votes to override the voter bill. that's one veto that might still stand, but the point is it's not
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like it's some kind of easy, ç peasy, stand up if you have a spine and everything will turn out right. there's a lesson in bev perdue, the new sheriff turned blue line in north carolina. what bev perdue means is that if you do stand up, then it is on the record what these policies really mean and what they are really designed to do. what you're doing with a bev perdue style giant veto stamp accompanying statements for every extreme policy is to make clear what the opposition is up to so you can give voters a choice, so when they stand up, they know where you stand versus where the other folks stand. >> did i one litmus test, it's been the big decision maker toll me since i became governor. does it move us forward or move us backward? every veto have been about
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moving north carolina forward. i vetoed all these, my reasons are very specific. it's the people of north carolina that are going to be surprised and perhaps shocked and awed about some of the results that are going to happen across the state. >> she might not be winning all these political fights with the republican assembly, but bev perdue is doing one thing very effectively, she's giving the voters of north carolina a choice in 2012. i love north carolina. i went to college and grad school in the state, which means that a core part of my education took place in north carolina. it also means that i came of age politically in north carolina. it means i came of age politically in north carolina. the first time i ever cast a vote for the president of the united states, i cast that vote in the state of north carolina. and during my time as a north carolinian, i was an escort for women seeking abortion, so when the protestors would come out and fight for women to seek medical attention in a difficult
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time, we would walk with these women, help them to walk the ç gauntlet, so those three things, education, voting rights, and reproductive rights, those are all part of my north carolina experience and it's why i love bev perdue. when i look at this woman, the first woman governor of north carolina, a democrat in charge, when the assembly is controlled by republicans for the first time in more than a century, and i say you are it. you and your uncommonly steely back bone are the thin blue line standing up against what they are trying to do to the state, this new wave of conservatives, and it's not just you're the one standing there saying nope, nope, nope, but in doing so, you keep articulating that there is another north carolina, that these people don't get to have the last say on everything, that there's another way to think about what this place is and why these issues matter.
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and so even though bev perdue keeps losing, the fact that she's there and keeps fighting, that is awfully important. bev perdue is the thin blue line in north carolina, and i'll tell you what, if you don't have that thin blue line, north carolina, well, you're kansas. joining me now is chris fitzsimon, director of nc policy watch, a progressive policy think tank in north carolina, thanks for being here tonight. >> well, i'm glad to be with you. >> great. listen, as i am taking a look right now at north carolina and at these veto overrides, does it look, at this moment, like the north carolina senate is going to follow the house and override governor perdue's veto of the anti-reproductive choice act? >> well, melissa, it looks like the north carolina senate is going to vote on that tomorrow, and it is really in the hands of two republican senators, one of whom is not going to be in town. this bill passed with one republican senator voting
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qg%9mqjeeráq'ator stan bingham from davidson county in north carolina. he said he's either going to vote against it tomorrow or take a walk and not vote at all. if so, it will be overridden. women will be denied their reproductive freedom. if he stands tall and votes against his republican caucus and votes for common sense, we won't have this extreme bill. it's astonishing we're sitting here talking about an anti-woman's bill this extreme, one of the most extreme in the country. there's no exception in this for rape victims. if a 14-year-old girl is raped and becomes pregnant, she has to endure the waiting period and right wing propaganda. before she can access legal medical services. it's really an astonishing bill as you mentioned, an infringement of the woman's rights and doctor-patient relationship. we'll find out tomorrow if it's going to be law in north carolina in this incredibly reactive legislative session we're in the middle of.
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>> it's particularly stunning in a place like north carolina, which is, you know, aborter state in other ways. it's always been a place that's had a deeply purple reality, sometimes go republican in the national elections but often had democratic governors or in the state, and so when i look at this battle now, going on with governor perdue and with this, as you say, reactionary set of new legislators, what kind of impact is this having as they've overridden these other vetoes what, kind of north carolina are they making? >> well, they are making a far right north carolina. you mention kansas, and i'm worried we might go further than that if these folks stay in power. the last few weeks of the session, which ended in june, now the session has become an ideological crusade.ç we're dismantling public education with voucher cuts. we're laying off state employees. our unemployment rate rose in
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june from 9.7%. well above the national average. our office contributed most of that to layoffs of public employees, public sector employees in public schools, community colleges, universities. we really are taking north carolina from what, i think, is a state with a strong progressive tradition. we don't do everything right, but we've done things right. that's in jeopardy now. thanks to the idealogs that have taken over the legislature. >> chris fitzsimon, director of n.c. policy watch, many of my nearest and dearest are in north carolina so please do, in fact, watch that policy. >> we will, thank you. >> thanks so much for being here. now, what happens when 200,000 people leave a major american city? good-bye, gone, and the loss of tax revenue is just the beginning of the problems? i'll have that next. ♪
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today in detroit, mayor dave bing announced he was putting this most american of cities through the urban equivalent of triage. three designations based on how likely they are to survive. if the city thinks yours is a steady neighborhood, you'll get the most city services like help cleaning up the streets and if you're in a place they decide is
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transitional, you'll get less. and if you're in a distressed neighborhood, you'll get fire and police services and garage pickup and also more demolitions. detroit is in, no joke, trouble. they call these housws ferrell houses. the city lost a quarter of its population over the last decade, 200,000 people who got up and left and are most certainly not coming back. detroit has lost a million people since 1950. entire blocks stand empty. this is a real american city, the motor city, really shrinking. but detroit is also really refusing to quit. this is a city with its own baseline. remember this super bowl commercial for chrysler from eminem? of course you do.
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imported from detroit with eternal base, rhythm guitar and gospel choir. i live in another musical city that's been emptied out, new orleans. also very great, and also very american with its own american way. even before hurricane katrina, new orleans had begun to lose new orleanians. after katrina whole neighborhoods were empty and ruined and not all of them were brought back. many of the neighborhoods, like the lower ninth ward have lost way more than half their people. new orleans has been going through its own triage, a painful process of trying to decide which neighborhoods to support and which will simply fade away. these are two american cities. each confronting a smaller future. and we talk as a nation about doing big things. in detroit's case, the mayor has come right out and said what's very difficult to admit. that detroit has to get smaller. that he can't continue to support every neighborhood at the same level, because the city can't raise enough revenue.
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sound familiar? i want to keep focusing in on detroit here, because i think it's a particularly vivid example of the phenomenon called the hollow prize. you win something. and because of what's happening at the time you win it, the thing you've won tons out to be hollow. you've won a hollow prize. you're dave bing nba basketballç star, hometown hero, you win the race to be mayor. what do you get exactly? consider president obama who took the oath of office in january 2009. let's remember 2009, a month when the u.s. economy shrank the fastest in a quarter century. a month when we lost 600,000 jobs. when it stopped being unusual to find yourself suddenly unemployed or to know people who had just been put out of work. a month when it felt to many like the world was ending, and barack obama became our first black president on the 20th day
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of that terrible month. he had won the nation's highest office at one of the worst possible moments. so his was something of a hollow prize. and when we talk about the hollow prize, we're often referring to african-american mayors, the ones who finally come into power when the city has tipped into semipermanent decline. it's hard to find a prize more hollow than the mayor of detroit. you're elected to govern a city. you spend most of your time shutting off the lights. even when the federal government steps in to rescue your key industry. even when the rescue succeeds and saves the car companies that made your town detroit in the first place that help make america, america, you still have emptiness, you still have feral houses and churches and blocks and blocks of nothing but hard, hard choices. detroit was one of the first
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real centers of black political power in middle class prosperity, and now it's another black mayor's hollow prize. we've talked a lot on this show about the official response to about the official response to the distress in detroit and áhjsr(rrt(jy this school, the catherine ferguson school for young mothers was nearly closed this year. some say that detroit's mayor dave bing would like emergency manager powers of his own, but mayor bing insists that's not true. that he is still the plain old elected mayor of a city with a giant hole where the tax base used to be. but what's happening to mayor bing's detroit and to new orleans and in different cities in different ways all across america is that we, the rest of america have cut them loose to sink or swim on their own, when
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they simply can't make it. our collective will to preserve cities has shrunk and our cities have shrunk right along with that will. the question now is what a just outcome looks like for these places. how can we make sure the families that live there, live in safety? that they have good schools. that they have health care? we have neighborhoods in this country where you can't so much as buy a fresh piece of fruit. and as we consider the enormous budget cuts that have pushed out the very idea of raising more money by taxing the very wealthy, consider this, we can still help places like detroit and new orleans and so many american cities. they don't have to become just hollow prizes. we could decide that we can still do big things if we have the political will to do them. [ male announcer ] members of the american postal workers union
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this is walter reed, the walter reed, the guy for whom the legendary military hospital was named. here he is again. a little older and with a mustache. he was an army doctor who led a team to cuba, and confirmed that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitos rather than by human to human contact. for more than a century, the hospital that bares his name has made its name serving presidents and privates. it's a place that had a scandal a few years back, about substandard living conditions. you can see some of the mold and a bit of peeling wallpaper there. but mainly, over the decades, walter reed has been a refuge ç where hundreds of thousands of americans wounded in war have been able to go and get better. and maybe learn how to knit, you know, occupational therapy, world war i style. if you happened to lose a limb in the great war, the medical staff couldn't do much more than give you a pair of crutches.
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but today, walter reed is a state of the art center for amputees. soldiers are given new limbs and taught how to walk, run, fish, tie fishing lures, even after losing an arm. for the 150,000 patients it serves, walter reed is an example of government that works, which is why even though the facility we have come to know as walter reed is closing, they held a ceremony today to say good-bye. the hospital where all of this important life saving work takes place will continue for another century, it will just happen to move to two new facilities and one of them was built to order. and even the therapy dogs get to go too. and around here, that's great news. that's the kind of news that we call the best new thing in the world today. listen, that does it for us tonight. i'm melissa harris-perry, i'm for the rachel maddow


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